Fabrics - Choose the Right Cotton Tee

A Look At The Variety Of Cotton Fabrics Available For T-shirts Today

Cotton TeesWith nearly 14,000 styles of T-shirts to choose from in the ad specialty industry, you've got to have some guidelines. Understanding the difference in cotton fabrics used for all-cotton tees is a good starting point.

First, look at the description of cotton content. Most T-shirts described simply as "100% cotton" are made from a less expensive, less refined open-end cotton, offering good value for a basic tee. Ringspun cottons are smoother and stronger. They've been through a spinning process that softens and straightens each fiber. Another step up in quality is combed ringspun cotton, which is even more refined. After the cotton fibers have been spun, they're combed to remove any impurities or imperfect strands.

Cotton can also be distinguished by origin. Egyptian cotton is grown in the Nile River Delta and is desired for its luxuriousness and durability. (These qualities result from Egyptian cotton's long fibers.) Pima cotton, grown in Peru and the southwestern United States, is considered by many to be a comparable alternative to the high-end feel and strength of cottons grown in Egypt. Pima cotton's fibers are slightly shorter than those of its Egyptian counterpart.

Once you determine the type of the cotton, check on the weight of the fabric. T-shirt weights range from the very light (3.0 oz.) to standard (4.5 oz. to 5.3 oz.) to heavy (over 6 oz.). Weight matters for a number of reasons. The garment's end-use can help determine which weight is best. A heavier weight is likely a better choice for a building contractor who is wearing the shirt frequently and washing regularly.

A lighter weight is typically preferred by women as a more fashionable choice. It will have a cleaner fit. Climate might influence which weight will be more comfortable; the warmer the region or season, the lighter the garment's weight should be. Freight expense can even be a factor. The heavier each box of T-shirts is, the more expensive delivery becomes.

Finally, look at the weave. You'll see 18-single, 30-single and 40-single yarns. The more cotton threads per yarn, the tighter the weave. A 40-single, 100% combed ringspun cotton tee is therefore extremely soft with a tighter, smoother weave than a T-shirt made of an 18-single, open-end cotton.

One final note: Check whether the cotton has been preshrunk. Most 100% cotton tees on the market will be, but confirming this feature avoids any disappointment in how the garment holds its size in the wash.